Years ago Ryan Staley found himself left behind at a ferry terminal on the Sunshine Coast after his ferry was late to arrive.
There was no bus service available, so the transportation gap spurred his idea for an on-demand service to make travel without a car easier.
While somewhat similar to other ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, Staley began Coastal Rides – the first ride-hailing service on the Sunshine Coast, which now operates in the Comox Valley (along with Texada Island).
By working with local drivers and transportation companies in the communities they serve, Staley says they are striving to provide safe, affordable and sustainable transportation.
“Comox is a great market for us because there is a huge need, particularly for trips to and from the airport and the ferry terminals and also a lack of reliable transit and taxi services, particularly in the evening and early morning.”
After the province passed the new ride-hailing legislation in Oct. 2019, Staley applied for a licence with the B.C. Passenger Transporation Board, and was granted a licence in Feb. 2020.
Following a discussion with friends in Comox, he decided to bring them on board and began recruiting drivers in the Valley, but the pandemic made recruitment “nearly impossible,” he adds.
While the reaction from riders has been positive, Staley says the company still doesn’t have enough drivers to serve the demand.
“Offering the ability to schedule in advance and know that you are going to get to your flight in the morning is something we’ve been doing well.”
He says the company is also developing partnerships with existing local companies such as Ambassador Transportation in order to deepen collaboration within the next few months. Currently, Coastal Rides has six drivers in the area who are working part-time, but Staley would like another six to 10 drivers to meet the current demand.
“We’re also working to have full-time dedicated drivers online all the time which will make the service more reliable around the clock,” he adds.
Drivers who are interested need a class 4 licence and a vehicle that is less than 10 years old that passes a commercial vehicle inspection. Background checks are also done on all drivers.
For more information, visit coastalrides.ca or download the app for Apple or Android.